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Category: Sewing Basics and Skills


Sewing Machine Maintenance: Round Up of Sewing Machine Covers

June 29th, 2012 — 12:09pm

If you’re going to take the time to clean your sewing machine and serger on a regular basis, it would be foolish to leave it exposed to the elements.  The dust and pollen and..other stuff…floating around in the air pretty much guarantee that any machine that doesn’t have a little jacket to wear will end up with bunnies living in the crevices.  While the odds are pretty good, if your machine was made after 1970 or so, that the motor and belt aren’t exposed, and so there’s less risk that the inner workings of your machine will get gummed up by lint, there is always the concern that any dust or fluff floating around will settle on parts of your machine that you can’t easily reach, leading to more work for you later and ultimately a shorter life-span for your machine.

The answer is super duper simple: a sewing machine cover.  Now, you can buy one in stores or online, either a hard case or a soft vinyl cover.  They work great, and they get the job done.  I prefer, though, a fabric cover that is out of fabric I love and that I can periodically launder to keep it looking spiffy.  My favorite sewing machine cover design is the one in my new book, but I can’t show that with you for a few more weeks (how’s that for a plug?), so I’ve rounded up some of the best sewing machine cover tutorials on the web for you to peruse!

I prefer a cover that has four sides, so while there are a number of lovely tutorials out there that drape a piece of fabric over the top of the machine and tie it sweetly at the sides, I don’t feel as though that style of cover will really get the job done.  For that reason, I’ve only shared tutorials here that cover all four sides of the machine.

Simple Simon has a darling cover that’s reminiscent in shape of the vinyl ones you can get at the store, but obviously way prettier.

Philadelphia’s Spool has a great pattern for a sewing machine cozy that’s clean and chic.

I love the exterior pockets (and Momo fabric!) on this cover from Notes from the Patch.

I’m not sure how much I love the ruffle on this cover from Sew 4 Home, but I know I like the handle on the top.

Bloom and Blossom has a cute and inexpensive pattern for a linen cover with piping and patchwork.

An interfaced cover from Made It has structure and support to help it stand up on its own.

Naturally, any and all of these cover designs can be adapted to be used on your serger, as well–I made a matching set of quilted, piped, reversible covers for my machine and serger using the project from my new book.  I know, I tease–pictures as soon as I get the go-ahead!

4 comments » | Sewing Basics and Skills, Sewing Tutorials

Sewing Machine Maintenance: A Sample Schedule

June 28th, 2012 — 11:42am

It’s lovely to know HOW to clean your machine(s), but it’s equally important to know WHEN to clean them, in order to make sure you get the most out of them and catch any issues before they become problems.  Today, a sample schedule for maintaining and servicing your sewing machine and serger.

Sewing Machine cleaning and service schedule

Every new project: replace needle

Every time you sew: dust outside and tidy up beneath the machine; keep machine covered when not in use to decrease dust settling

Once a month: clean the interior of the bobbin assembly and case, the tension disks, and under the throat plate; oil all necessary parts

Once every two years: take your machine to the dealership or service center for a standard check-up and maintenance (should run you around $55-$65, depending on where you live, and is totally worth it)

Serger/Overlock cleaning and service schedule

Every time you sew: clean beneath the machine, dust off any lint, and keep the serger covered between uses

Once every two weeks: clean the interior of the machine, removing all lint and particles

Once a month:  run a length of thread soaked in alcohol through the tension disks to collect any bits of fluff that your cleaning missed

Once every four months: take your machine to the dealership or service center for regular maintenance; replace cutting blades at this time, especially if you’re a heavy user

Obviously, this might not be the schedule you choose to regularly follow–I know folks who clean their machine(s) every single time they use them, either because they sew infrequently (and so the machine will be stored afterward and they want to store it in a clean and oiled state) or because they sew very often (and there is a greater accumulation of lint and dust).  Either way, taking the best care of your machine that you can will help it to last longer–and that’s true of less expensive models as much as it is of fancier machines.

Last tip: use the best thread you can afford.  Cheaper threads have bits of microscopic lint that come off them, which sheds all over your machine–both where you can see it and where you can’t.  I used to get tons of bits of thread on my throat plate, and assumed it was fluff from the cut edge of my fabric.  Turns out, it was from the thread rubbing against the thread guides, and bits of it were flying off–imagine what was inside my machine!  Better-quality threads have vastly less fluff and breakage, and will not only treat the interior of your machine better, but will last longer in your sewn projects, too.

*As always, this advice is a recommendation only, and you are strongly urged to consult your owner’s manual and your service provider to learn what service schedule and maintenance techniques will work best for your machine.

8 comments » | Sewing Basics and Skills

Sewing Machine Maintenance: Cleaning Your Serger

June 27th, 2012 — 12:25pm

A serger, or overlock machine, can be a great addition to your sewing arsenal.  They’re not at all essential, obviously, but if you’re planning to open an Etsy shop manufacturing children’s clothing, for example, you’ll find that a serger will make your life super way easier.  Cleaning one out isn’t tough, but it does need to be done frequently–take a look at the filth in the video to see what happens when good sergers get dirty:

8 comments » | Sewing Basics and Skills

Sewing Machine Maintenance: Cleaning a Top-Load

June 26th, 2012 — 8:40am

If you’re following along, we’re having an exciting week of CLEANING!  I know how it sounds.  But really, it is exciting to clean your sewing machine–seeing it all shiny and happy is much more satisfying than 20-year-old me would have ever guessed.  Plus, it has the added benefit of making your sewing better and your machine last longer, so it’s totally worth the very few minutes that it takes to get the job done.

Today’s machine is a top-loading Brother, one that’s super common on the market and a great starter machine.  I will apologize in advance for not having found one that was filthier for all of you, so you could really see where the lint gets and how threads can get caught and abandoned–but I think you’ll get the idea.

Have fun, and keep it clean, y’all!

6 comments » | Sewing Basics and Skills

Sewing Machine Maintenance: Cleaning a Front-Load

June 25th, 2012 — 12:58pm

Brief note: I announced on Thursday that we’d be hosting a Crafty Meet-Up at the Whipstitch shop in Atlanta on June 29.  Turns out that’s the Friday before July 4–who knew?  Lots of you let us know that you’ll be out of town that weekend and were bummed you wouldn’t be able to make it–so we’ve made the decision to COMBINE the Crafty Meet-Up with our Skirting the Issue Sew-In on July 14.  Which means the June 29 event has been re-scheduled.  Just FYI–plan something else for June 29 for yourself, then mark your calendar to join us at the shop July 14, instead, and watch the newsletter for more details.  Thanks, y’all!

I hate to break it to you, but I can very nearly guarantee that you aren’t taking care of your sewing machine the way you should.  I’m not picking on you–most of us aren’t, if we’re being honest.  The good news is that it’s super easy and not even time consuming to take really good care of your sewing machine, and it will make your machine last longer and sew better.  That’s right: simple maintenance will help your sewing machine do better work that you’re more satisfied with.  If that’s not instant gratification, I don’t know what is.

All this week, I’m posting about maintaining and cleaning our sewing machines, and I’ve got a little something for everyone: cleaning a machine with a bobbin case (commonly called a “front-load” machine); cleaning a machine with a top-loading bobbin; cleaning a serger; when and how to schedule professional maintenance on your sewing machine; and how to reduce those service visits with some simple tips.  I’m super excited, mostly because this motivated me to get some cleaning done and that’s never a bad thing.

Today, basic cleaning of a front-loading sewing machine, with a bobbin case.  You’ll want some simple supplies on hand: a stiff-bristled brush, sewing machine oil, perhaps a can of compressed air, a screw driver for removing any screws that attach your throat plate to your machine arm, and some scraps of clean, soft muslin.  Check out the video for step-by-step and plenty of patter.

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12 comments » | Sewing Basics and Skills

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